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Demystifying the coffee supply chain

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Written by algrano
on March 12, 2020

In response to Perfect Daily Grind's blog: 5 Questions Roasters Should Ask Their Green Coffee Importer, we would like, in a series of blog posts, to answer these questions to give insight into how Algrano works.

5. Ask What They Are Currently Excited About

Our quality control lab is filling up with samples from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the run-up to the next Discovery campaigns. Algrano’s sourcing team spent 3 weeks in Central America visiting farms and co-operatives. We cupped hundreds of coffees and worked closely to growers to select the lots we believe will best suit the taste of European roasters. It has been an incredible journey learning the work models of different suppliers and how they are joining efforts to coordinate logistics.

Coffee growers have faced a difficult harvest all over Central America. They have been affected by climate change with variation in rain patterns and temperature, leaf rust and workforce shortages. In El Salvador, the consistent lack of support from the government means more and more producers are abandoning their farms. However, growers are showing yet another display of strength and resilience and producing coffees of outstanding quality.

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The first lots to be made available this coming Monday are from Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada (Cocafcal) in the highlands of Copán, Honduras. The country is known for producing coffees on the "cheaper" side, but Capucas has been successfully adding value to its coffee over the past few years. They own a stainless steel tank to produce anaerobic lots and have developed fermentation protocols to increase the cup score of their coffees. The co-op also champions they growers by offering single farm lots.

Next is the Salvadoran Discovery. This is a very special campaign. It is the first time algrano selects only female producers for a Discovery! We connected with the local chapter of the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA) with help from Maria Pacas from the famous Pacas family. In a country where government initiatives to support farmers have been absent, the group is really pushing to find new markets for their member’s coffees. These women are organized, professional and reliable (do we even need to say badass?). If you’re looking for trustworthy partners you needn't look any further.

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We conclude our Central America campaigns with our good friends of Truth Trading Co. in Guatemala. Christian and Mario are growers and exporters with a working model very close to our own. They promote and export coffees from multiple producers - many of them also personal friends - charging a fixed fee for the service, which is fully transparent. Guatemalan coffee farmers are the most innovative we’ve encountered: they modify machines for their mills to create new processing protocols and invest time and money in adapting varieties to their farms. For them, growing coffee is work, science and pleasure.  

Before this trip, we were contacted by roasters looking for specific coffees - including competition nano-lots. We came across some really interesting stuff, the type that sells too fast to reach a Discovery. However, growers are happy to offer these coffees when they know there is demand. Keep your eyes on our calendar for the upcoming campaigns and reach out with your looking for something special. We are also keen for roasters to join us on trips to origin, so don’t be shy!


Next week's blog answer: Bonus - How can I build strong relationships with the growers?

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